Athens: A major rescue operation is underway after a cargo ship carrying 14 crew members including Indian crew members, sank off the coast of Lesbos island in Greece due to high-speed winds, Al Jazeera reported.

The Comoros-flagged ship Raptor, which was travelling from Dekheila, Egypt to Istanbul carrying a load of salt, sank 4.5 nautical miles (8.3 km) southwest of Lesbos early on Sunday.

Five cargo ships, three Coast Guard vessels, air force, navy helicopters and a navy frigate have joined the rescue effort to search for the crew members, Al Jazeera reported citing the Greek coastguard. However, only one crew member has been rescued till now.

The crew member was airlifted from the sea by a navy helicopter during gale force winds, according to the coastguard and taken to Lisbon General Hospital for treatment.

According to Al Jazeera, the ship first reported a mechanical failure at 7 am local time (05:00 GMT), but by 8:20 am (local time), the captain had sent out a Mayday distress call and reported that the ship was tilting.

Shortly after, the ship disappeared from the radar shortly after and authorities suspect that the heavy load caused the ship to stop and sink once it took on water.

The Athens News Agency (ANA), reported quoting the operating company of the ship based in Lebanon, said that crew members included Syrian, Indian and Egyptian nationals, according to Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, the ships remained docked across several parts of Greece over the weekend, with wind speeds reaching 9-10 on the Beaufort scale, meaning a strong gale to storm force. The Beaufort scale which ranges from 0 to 12 estimates wind strength.

An emergency weather warning by the Hellenic National Meteorological Service (EMY) was also upgraded on Saturday from “worsening weather” to “dangerous weather phenomena”, as Storm Oliver (also called Bettina) moved from the Adriatic Sea toward Greece.

The country has been struck by repeated flooding over recent months after being hit by a series of storms.

Earlier in September, Central Greece was devastated by cataclysmic amounts of rain dumped by Storm Daniel, destroying crops and killing tens of thousands of farm animals across a wide area that is the heart of Greece’s agricultural production, Al Jazeera reported.